Saturday, December 19, 2015

Star Wars

Well, the whole Star Wars thing is our era's mythology, right?  Sort of like The Iliad and the Odyssey belong to classical civilizations and Beowulf belongs to the Anglo-Saxons, Star Wars belongs to us.  And it's a particularly potent mythology for people who came of age watching the movies, like my oldest son who has loved Star Wars for forever.

So, it was with pleasure that we all saw it last night, although (I'll confess) I wasn't camping out for tickets or counting down the minutes or getting dressed up.  I like Stars Wars.  I even honor Star Wars.  But when push comes to shove, I could have waited to see it.

Still.  There was something  sweet about the thought of seeing it last night with the first-born (even though he and his wife ended up in another auditorium wth?)

Okay.  I liked it.  A lot, even.  Like a reviewer on NPR said, it works, because it hits all the familiar notes and hits them well.  Personally, I was unprepared for how emotional I felt when I saw the characters who have aged.

Like me.

It was an oddly bittersweet experience.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015



So a son had his tonsils removed this morning, and watching (listening!) to him come out of the anesthesia was entertaining.  To say the least.   As it turns out, this son is a freaking force of nature when he's completely unfiltered.

The commentary never stopped.  Whenever the nurse walked through the room he'd say, "Pam!  Is it hard to be nice to people all day?"  And then he would start rapping, yo.  Straight out of Compton!

He also asked another nurse if I should continue to let my hair go gray or if I should dye it.

And then he flipped me and his dad off like we were Australians in that episode of Flight of the Conchords where Dave has to teach the boys from New Zealand how to give someone the bird, after which they all head down to the Australian embassy and flip off a guard because you know how it is. Sometimes you just have to flip off a guard from Australia.


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

My encounter with a Mormon missionary at the Smith's today

Today while picking up a prescription for Ken Cannon, I saw a missionary standing in line with seriously bandaged fingers.  Like, they were mummy fingers with big steel rods poking out and so forth.

ME:  Elder!  What happened?

ELDER:  I had a run-in with a snow blower.

ME:  Was it a service project?

ELDER:  Yes.

ME:  That'll teach you to serve your fellow man again.

ELDER:  Right?

ME:  I'll bet your mom is worried about you.

ELDER:  She doesn't know.

ME:  Good man.

I thoroughly subscribe to the philosophy that missionaries should communicate bad news to mothers on a need-to-know basis.  And who needs to know anyway when you're here and your kid is someplace where you can't do a damn thing for her or him anyway?

Words to live by, people.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Things I've Learned as a Result of Watching the Hallmark Movie Channel During This Christmas Season

Okay, for starters, I haven't watched it a lot.  But Kathy and Sally, my running pals, have it on during the month of December the way I have on my radio.  And since the news has gotten so damn depressing lately, I decided to give ye old Hallmark a try.

Here's what I've learned so far.

1.  Almost everybody in the original movies looks like somebody famous.  Kate Middleton.  Rachel Weisz, Jennifer Garner, that girl who played the ghost who flew out of the toilet in one of the Harry potter movies.  You know the one I mean.  The one with the weird voice which probably is the result of being a ghost who flies out of toilets and so forth.

2.  Adorable, precocious kids (who only a grandparent would actually think are a) adorable and b) precocious) are important plot facilitators.

3.  There are a lot of minor European countries with minor royal families who all speak with American accents in this world.

I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Sort of like Fifty Shades

So I had an emergency root canal this morning (good times!) and wow.

Let it be said that I love my dentist.  He's a friend!  And a dentist!  And it was awesomeness all around how he worked me into his schedule today because I had an angry tooth that just kept yelling at me.

But.  Root canals.  Ugh.

By the time I was lying upside down with a rubber shield over my facial parts, I felt like I had wandered onto the set of Fifty Shades.

In other news, while I was waiting for my dentist, I read a story in People called "Khloe Kardashian Breaks Her Silence."  And I was all WHEN WAS SHE EVER QUIET?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Another reason why I love Ken Cannon

Today Ken Cannon went with two of our boys to see the new James Bond movie.  When they returned home, I asked how they liked it.

BOY:  We liked it, but Dad didn't.

ME:  Why?

BOY:  He thought it strained credibility.

How can you not love a man who, after watching James Bond movies his whole life, gave this one a thumbs down because it wasn't believable?

This reminds me of when I went to see the first Mission Impossible movie with the Coach, who watched quietly until that part where Tom Cruise is sort of flying in front of the train.  That's when the Coach snorted and said loud enough for many to hear, "Oh, right.  Like THAT could happen."

Because you know.  The rest of that movie did not strain credibility.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Now comes the missing part

Last night I dreamed I opened the front door and my old dog Brutus raced outside and down the street like a greased pig at the Iowa State Fair.

So here's the deal about Brutus.  He was an indestructible Boston Terrier with a head that took up half of his body.  He used to run and then fall forward because his head was so heavy.  But then he'd bounce up on those spindly legs and start it all over again.  Once TRQ and I watched him get run over by a truck on a Sunday afternoon.  We screamed and clutched each other as screaming people often do.  But then we realized that the truck had just passed over him.  So, after rolling around like a tumbleweed a few times, Brutus jumped back up right there in the middle of the street and trotted toward us, totally unfazed.

That dog was like Rasputin.  Yes.  My dog was a monk dog.  A Russian monk dog.

Anyway.  I dreamed about Brutus last night.  And in my dream he ran away.  So I spent my entire dream life last night looking for him.  Finally I went inside a church where ladies were making casseroles in the kitchen.  I asked if they'd seen a dog and they said yes.  He was in the Relief Society room (?!!!)

And there was, in fact, a Boston Terrier in the RS room.  I picked him up and realized right away it was NOT Brutus.  His head was too small.   But I took him home anyway.

I know why I had this dream.  Yesterday we had to put down our big girl newfie, Zora.  Knowing this was inevitable, we had a wake for her all weekend.  There were many tears, although I didn't cry much.  I've done this enough to know that for me the tears and the missing part--those moments when you expect an animal you love to be lying on her back in the kitchen like she always did--come later.

RIP Zora.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Turning into someone

Sometimes I used to feel annoyed with my grandmother because she. could. not. sit. still.  (Is using periods like that after each word still a thing?)

Like, she would plan a trip to see friends in Oregon, but as soon as she got there, she started getting all antsy to go home.  Or if you tried to have a conversation with her, you could tell that after five minutes she was all WE'RE DONE HERE, because she wanted to go clean a kitchen instead.  Physical restlessness ran like blood through her veins.   Because what else runs though veins?  Except maybe ice water if you're a steely-eyed character in a mystery novel?  

And I used to think unto myself, I love my grandmother, but I don't want to be like that.

Well guess what.

What is at the root of this?  Any ideas?  And what can I do to be more present?  Besides coloring in my new mindfulness coloring book?

Monday, November 16, 2015

The past few weeks . . .

. . . on a global, local and personal level have been deeply discouraging.

This is why I am especially grateful for my brother Jimmy, an attorney in Vegas, who sends me texts like these.

Yesterday there was a dog adoption at Petsmart.  There was a pretty Cane Corso dog, and I asked the Humane Society handler about the dog.  She was British and had the accent to prove it.

HER:  Do you already have a dog?
ME:  Yes.  A cocker spaniel.
HER:  That won't do.  This dog needs to be an only dog.  It won't get well with another.
ME:  Do you accept trades?
HER:  (appalled)  What?
ME:  I take the Corso.  You get the cocker--[seeing the concerned look on her face]--but I'm just joking.
HER:  Well, it's not very funny, is it?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Tidbits from a recent romance readers luncheon

Last Saturday I was invited to a romance readers luncheon by romance writer Annie Oortman where I picked up a few good tips for writing (and living!) from keynote speakers, Raeanne Thayne and Robyn Carr (who was hysterical btw).

Tips include the following--

1.  Your characters need problems.  Stories without problems are photo albums, not novels.

2.  Write what you love.

3.  A novel becomes popular one book, one reader at a time.

4.  Don't write about a heroine that's waiting for someone else to save her.  And (while we're at it) a woman ought to be the heroine of her own life, not a victim.

Incidentally, Carr is the author of the bestselling Virgin River series, which (she noted) some people call the Vagina River series.  (She shoots!  She scores!)

Monday, November 9, 2015

The more you write, the more you write . . .

So I've been pretty absent lately.  And what I've noticed is that my columns have been harder for me to write because I'm not practicing here on my blog.  It's like I'm a Jazz player not practicing my free throws.  Except I'm not a Jazz player.  I'm more of a Junior Jazz player.  With a jersey that hangs down to my knees because I'm shorter than all the other kids on my team.  Not only that but I'm the Junior Jazz player whose mom brings lame treats.

But that's not the point.

The point is that I need to be writing more.


Friday, October 30, 2015

How my brother and I entertain ourselves

We write Laffy Taffy holiday jokes.

Halloween Jokes

Knock knock!
Who’s there?
Boo-frickety Who?
Book-frickety-hoo!  I was raised by frickin’ Belgians!

What did the boy Cyclops say to the girl Cyclops?
I’ve got my eye on you!

What is the Cyclops’ favorite TV station?

What is a ghost’s favorite bird? 
The blue-footed BOO-by.

What did the boy pirate ghost say to the girl pirate ghost?
Nice BOO-ty!

What kind of drive does Dracula like to go on?
A blood drive!

What is this year's scariest movie?
Mr. Trump Goes to Washington!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Watching kids at a chalkboard

Today I saw three junior high-aged kids writing on a blackboard in front of a business.  They were thoroughly absorbed in the task--and in each other.  And suddenly I remembered my friends and me at that age, how intensely we worked at creating that private world--the one where no grownups were allowed.

And as I watched these kids today, it occurred to me how completely, thoroughly, and tragically UNINTERESTING adults are when you're thirteen years old.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Brian Selznick and THE MARVELS

Here's the interview I did with Brian Selznick about his new book, THE MARVELS.    I'm always interested in other writers' processes.

Meanwhile, I just finished SIX OF CROWS by Leigh Bardugo, which I hugely enjoyed.  In fact, I was a little surprised by how much I enjoyed it.  When I asked myself what she was doing so well, I arrived at these conclusions.

1.  She's a good writer with a strong sense of scene and character.
2.  She's using the LOTR template for her story's structure.

Here's the thing.  I (to my intense astonishment) love LOTR.  And SIX OF CROWS is kind of a riff on that.  There's a company.  And there's a journey.  And there's a quest.  Only there are more females involved (yes!) and instead of being heroes, Bardugo's characters are mostly anti-heroes.

And also in my head I think one of the characters looks like Chris Hemsworth or possibly Armie Hammer.  So there's that.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Here's one of the best things about teaching . . .

You may be lucky enough to have some of your students become life-long friends.  And then you are very, very, VERY happy for them when they have good news to share.

Congratulations, you!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Strollers and so forth

The other morning when I was walking in Liberty Park, I noticed a stroller before I even noticed who was pushing it.  It was one of those old umbrella strollers--the kind that fold up easily and don't do any special tricks.  And before I even looked at who was pushing the stroller I thought unto myself, "The person will be old.  Like me."

And lo it was the truth.  The woman appeared to be someone from my generation, pushing a baby (grandchild?) around the park in an old-fashioned umbrella stroller.

I've been thinking about strollers, actually, because earlier in the week I had lunch with some friends at the Dodo.  In the booth next to us there was a stroller that did tricks.  The young mother demonstrated for us everything it could do.  Swivel.  Expand.  Accommodate skateboards on both sides (I'm not lying).  Do handsprings across a basketball court during halftime like the Jazz Bear (I am lying).

When she was finished, I said to my friend, "How much would a stroller like that cost?  Maybe 700.00?"

She snorted mightily because she has been in the business of buying stuff for grandkids.  "At least."

I, of course, don't see the point of that when hell.  You can push a baby around Liberty Park on a fine fall day for a whole lotta less money.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Things that are more fun in theory than they are in real life

I'd love to read YOUR lists.

Meanwhile, here's a piece I wrote for the Trib.  La-Z-Boy recliners, the Pirates of the Caribbean, popcorn, and cuddle parties are involved.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

A few more book-related articles in the Trib

So here's a story about YA horror.  I haven't always understood horror's appeal, but Courtney and Mackenzi's smart answers (as well as their excellent novels) made me look at the genre with new eyes.

Also, this was an interesting piece to write.  If you're interested, take the time to read about this amazing project that helps children living with pediatric cancer to play out some of their dreams.

Happy weekend!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Here's the thing I've learned about dogs that weigh 180 pounds

If they don't want to move, they don't.

They're just all nein, niet, nao, nope, no way Jose.  They ain't moving, no matter what you--a mere slip of a human being with a lot less hair--say or do.

This happened with our big Newfoundland girl, Zora, the other day when I brought her home from the vet.  She just sat in the back of the car and threw me bored glances when I invited her to get out.

"Look," I finally told her.  "Your people jump out of helicopters over the Atlantic Ocean to rescue drowning people all the time.  And YOU won't even jump out of my damn car."

She's heard this so many times that she a) no longer feels shamed by me or b) laughs at my joke.  She just sits there in the car.

Finally, after about 20 minutes of cajoling and bribing and sweet-talking and threatening, I said to my son, "What is the only thing in this world that makes Zora move when she doesn't want to move."  And my son said, "THE VACUUM CLEANER!"

So he went into the house, dragged out our vacuum cleaner, and showed it to Zora.  The sight of my son holding a vacuum cleaner there on the street was enough to make her scramble (sort of) (scrambling is hard when you're the size of Sasquatch) to her paws and get out of the car.

So.  If you ever have trouble getting enormous dogs out of your car, I pass this tip along to you, totally free of charge.

You're welcome!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Happy birthday, Vashti Louise

Today is my grandmother's birthday.  And even though she's been gone for over twenty years, I find I miss her more and more--maybe because I'm a grandmother myself now.

Right now I am thinking of her "cures" for things.  Like Seabreeze.  Remember Seabreeze?  My grandmother always had a bottle on hand and she would dump it on you and tell you it would make you better.  She also believed that warm Jell-O water was full of restorative properties, and she would make it for you when you were sick.

Here's what else I remember about my grandmother.  Shortly before dying, she planted a perennial garden.  She had that much faith in the future.

Today I am going to buy a cupcake and eat it in her honor.

Love you, Grandma.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Nothing like a good bench-clearing, right?

Which is why I included it in my list of unwritten baseball rules.  The column is already up.  

Column Already Up = Good News on a Monday Morning!

On the other hand, I just received a robocall that greeted me this way:  "Hello, Seniors!"

"Hello Seniors!" = Not Good News on a Monday Morning!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Holly Goldberg Sloan's new novel

. . . is about an adorable possum.  And it's also full of fun possum facts.  I interview Holly here!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Conference Edition, October 2015

I appreciate the opportunity to write for the Trib beyond my weekly column, so if an editor calls with a request, I don't say no.  This time I was asked for another conference column.  I got the idea for this one after watching that three-hour marathonical debate on CNN where basically everybody melted under the lights like that witch in the Wizard of Oz.

Here we go.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

My new motto for living

One of my boys told me that whenever anybody got hurt in our house I'd say "Oh, just rub some dirt on it and get back in the game."

I don't think this is true.  I have no memory of saying anything like that.

But I wish I had.

I actually think this is an awesome approach to life--one I ought to follow myself.  So I'm gonna stitch it on a pillow, put that pillow on my couch, then go outside and rub some dirt on myself.

Monday, September 28, 2015

That which should be banned . . .

Here's the list.  I tried to include everybody's remarks.  If I missed you, I AM SO SORRY.   You can add me to the list of things that should be banned.

Thanks for your suggestions!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Attention my blog friends! I'm crowdsourcing YOU!

Next week is Banned Books Week.

I thought about doing a Trib column on banned books, but then I realized that as much as I hate some books, I don't want any of them to be banned.  So Marg at the bookstore came up with this awesome idea: write a column about stuff I want to ban--like two-year long presidential election cycles, for example.

Any ideas about what we should ban?

I will disclose that the column has been crowdsourced although I won't identify individuals.

I would LOVE your help.  And I will probably write the column on Sunday night, so there's that.


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

What not to wear

Oh, fashion disasters!  What would I do without you?  You always give me something to write about.

Thank you, fashion disasters!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

On our walk this morning

First thing.  A young man approached us in the dark and asked where the methadone clinic is.  Couldn't help him.  But I will say I looked at that kid and thought there but for the grace of God.  Some journeys are full of heartbreak.

Second thing.  We saw a car with a sign on the rear bumper that said "_________ your badge."  Talk about putting a bullseye on your back.  But our question was this:  does the owner of the car even know that the sign is there?  It looked kind of slapdash.

And suddenly I was off with this as a premise for a story.  

Also, I checked the back of my car as soon as we got home.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Things I learned about snails while driving to Wyoming with TRQ

As I've noted here before, TRQ is out to clear her land of snails.  So far she's been a) relentless and, thus, b) relatively successful.

But here's what I love about my mother.  She's taken the opportunity to learn about snails while she's busy eliminating them from the face of the planet.  Here are the Snail Facts she shared with me as we drove to Wyoming together this weekend.

1.  Snails can be found on every continent.  (So if you were planning to move to Australia to get away from snails, don't bother.)

2.  Snails can be 4 inches tall and 4 inches long.  (Who knew!  Snails can be pets!)

3.  Except that some snails bite.  (Who knew!  Snails can bite!)

4.  Snails are deaf.  (Which is why they don't come when you call them.)

5. They can, however, see.  (Who knew!  Snails have eyeballs!)

6.  Snails are asexual.  (It's always weird to hear your mother talk about sex.  Even if she's only talking about snail sex.)

7.  Snails can live in the sea.  (Hence, proving that the Sponge Bob cartoon series is scientifically accurate.)

See?  Don't you feel smarter already?

Monday, September 14, 2015

Previous lives . . . of which I've had many

I think I did a version of this as a piece for the memoir book la Louise and I have been working on.  It was fun to write.

Here you go!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

And finally she did it

TRQ, the Coach and I are in Wyoming, visiting TRQ's relation Ava, who's 97 now and living in a nursing home--which is hard for her.  She's always valued her independence.

Anyway.  I've always loved Ava's joie de vivre.  She's the one who went to Wendover for her 90th birthday (everybody gave her quarters), and she's also the one who always had a paperback romance with a bare-chested cowboy on the cover by her bedside.

Which brings me to this.  Ava has a little crush on my dad.  Her eyes light up whenever she sees him and she's always trying to wrangle a proper kiss from him--which he has managed (gracefully) to sidestep in our previous visits.

But this time she kissed him right on the lips.  And he let her.

Well done, Dad.  Well done.

Friday, September 11, 2015

One thing that has never happened to me . . .

This morning when I was outside chatting with Kathy's beautiful daughters, their mother (that would be Kathy) stepped outside in her Sunday best.  Without a break in the conversation, the daughters immediately surrounded their mother and engaged in a little social grooming, i.e. checking for lint and stray hairs and so forth.

Here's the thing about being the mother of sons.  Something like that would never--and I do mean NEVER--happen in our family.  And it was in that moment I realized I have probably been leaving the house for lo these many years, covered with stuff.

And also with my skirt on backwards.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Things people say to you that you wish you could follow up on . . .

So I do a lot of my grocery shopping at the downtown Smith's, which has a wide-ranging clientele.  I mean, you see every kind there--from elderly couple missionaries to guys doing drug deals in the parking lot.  Humanity on display!

Anyway, early this morning a nice-looking young woman walked out of the store, carrying a big box of doughnuts that I assumed she was taking to work because she was dressed like someone who spends her days in an office.  As we passed one another she looked at me and said, "The world better watch out because I am going to start standing up for myself."

I can't remember the last time a stranger carrying a box of doughnuts said this to me.  And, seriously, I want to know her story.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

You should not be allowed to keep a diary when you're 13 and female

Because when you read that diary later you want to go shoot yourself.  At least your thirteen year-old self.

I pulled out my old diary last night and read what I wrote when I was reading the book Exodus by Leon Uris, because back when I was a teenager the whole YA thing hardly existed.  So you read bestsellers.

Anyway, during my seventh-grade year I stumbled onto the novel Exodus and was very intrigued by the sex scene where the hero undresses the heroine and kisses her breasts.


And because I as so young and inexperienced (and also because it was the late 60's when married couples on TV slept in separate beds) I somehow got the idea this was something only people who lived in Israel did.

Lucky Israelis.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Where in the world is that text my dad just sent me?

So the Coach called awhile ago.

HIM:   Did you get that text I sent you?

ME:     No!  You sent me a text?

HIM:    I did.  It took me ten minutes to write.

ME:      And somehow I didn't get it!

HIM:     Where did it go?

ME:       To some person who's surprised you're texting them, no doubt.

Then I went on to tell him I once sent a text to a son with whom I'd had words.  It was an apology text.  And it simply said.  "I love you, dude."

I received a response immediately.  It said, "Thank you.  I love you, too.  Although I have absolutely no idea who you are."

Maybe my dad sent his text to that guy, as well?

Friday, September 4, 2015

Speaking of butts

Not that we were . . .

But I'm sending you to Louise's blog to read all about them.

You're welcome.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Writing is a strange, funny business

Last weekend I attended a retreat with other writers.  Some of them were rockstars in the business with movie deals and titles on the New York Times Bestsellers List.  (Did I do the capitalization thing correctly there?).  Others had published one book.  Others were somewhere in between.

I fretted about going.  Would I walk away feeling bad about my writing life, especially when compared to other authors who are a lot more prolific--and, yes--successful than I am?

But here was my surprising takeaway.  No matter where you are as a writer on your writer's journey, you can find something to feel bad about if you choose to.

--You can feel bad that you aren't making money, even if you write the kinds of books that win prizes.

--You can feel bad that you aren't winning prizes, even if you write the kinds of books that make money.

--You can feel bad that your debut novel didn't earn out its advance and so now publishers are unwilling to take you on.

--You can feel bad if you've had a relatively long career but still have to pitch your new manuscript like you've never been published before.

--You can feel bad if you read reviews on Goodreads and people say you suck.

What interested me was how many writers there kept saying they wanted to find a way back to the joy they used to feel when they wrote.  I didn't expect to hear that, since some of these people are the very ones living the Writer's Dream.

My point?  Or points?

--It's easy to feel isolated in all kinds of ways when you write, and when you feel isolated, you start imagining that someone somewhere is doing everything a whole lot better than you are.  And they probably have cuter shoes than you do, too.

--It's human nature to want what you don't have.

I walked away Saturday feeling . . . okay.  And committed to the idea that first and foremost, a writer's life should bring you at least a little satisfaction.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Taming of the Shrew

So TRQ called yesterday to say she and the Coach had seen the afore-mentioned play.

ME:  What did you think of it?

TRQ:  Well, I did laugh a lot . . .

ME:  But?

TRQ:  Gah.  It made me really uncomfortable.

Not that she really said "gah."  But you get the idea.  And I said to her ODDLY, I JUST SUBMITTED A COLUMN ABOUT THAT VERY THING.

It's right here.  You can see it for yourself!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Summer things

Every summer there are a few little things I like to do.

--Treat myself to Powerade slushes at the Sonic.
--Run barefoot.
--Sleep under the stars in my backyard.
--Ride my bike.
--Sit on my front porch and watch the moon come up over the mountains.

As you can see, they aren't big things.  But if I don't do them, I feel like I haven't had a summer.  I feel cheated.

Anyway, I haven't felt well this summer (not to worry--I'm good), and so my summer things have gone mostly undone.  But summer (un)officially ends with Labor Day, right?  So I have a week.  I have a week of summer left.

Plenty of time for a save.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Happy birthday, Lisa B.

I don't post very often on Sunday, mostly because I'm usually avoiding contact with my computer on the weekends to avoid WORKING.

But I just wanted to hop on here and give a big shoutout to my friend Lisa B., whom I met when we were mere babies at the BYU.  I first noticed her standing in a line to watch a foreign film where she was talking passionately about something--I can't remember what--and I thought unto myself, "I want her for a friend."

And, lo, my wish was granted.

I feel lucky to know her--am forever awed by her intelligence and generosity and her un-snobby knowledge and consumption of all things popular cultural.  Plus she has great taste in shoes.

Happy birthday, Friend.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Next time I get pulled over by the cops

So Louise and I got pulled over yesterday on our way home.

Well.  Technically speaking, Louise didn't get pulled over.  I did.  Because I was the one, technically speaking, who was driving and who almost took out the cop who was driving in my blind spot when I changed lanes.  Still technically speaking.

Oh, oops!

He pulled me over--as well he should have--but immediately in my head I went oh crap!  Because the last time I got pulled over I couldn't find my registration or proof of insurance because my glove compartment is filled with stuff like coupons and stray pantyhose and so forth.  You would have thought I'd have cleaned out the damn thing since that debacle with the law.

But no.

So, I couldn't find anything again and the officer, who'd just seen his life pass before his eyes, wasn't in the mood for good times with me.  In the end he took my license, ran it, and decided to let me off with a stern lecture about checking blind spots.  ESPECIALLY WHEN POLICE CARS ARE IN MY BLIND SPOT.

I was grateful.  And now I plan to be more cautious.  AND I also plan to clean out that glove compartment so that the next time I get pulled over, I'll be prepared.  Like a girl scout, you know.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

What to give

I received word yesterday that a friend is dying, so Louise and I went to see him this morning.  I wondered if I should take something.  A letter.  Balloons.  An orchid to brighten his room.  But in the end I took nothing.

When we walked into his room, Louise immediately went to his bedside, took his hand in hers, and stroked his head.  And watching her I thought that in the end, the only thing we can really give is the touch of skin on skin.

We can only give ourselves.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Yesterday at the P.O.

So I was standing behind this guy with MAJOR tatt-age going on.  And by major I mean HOLY COW THIS GUY HAS NO SKIN LEFT ON WHICH TO TATT.  (My favorite tatt, btw, was the one behind is left ear that said "Stay golden.")  Yes!  A skin shoutout to Ponyboy!

Anyway, I try not to trade in stereotypes, but if you stood behind a guy with this much going on skin-wise, would you assume that he is a) a freshman at BYU or b) a gangsta?

Fine.  He's probably neither one.  But still.

Well, the man standing in front of my Mr. Tatt was an older gentleman.  A chatty older gentleman who was talking to the guy in front of him about Viet Nam and World War II and possibly various other wars, as well.  When that conversation was over, this gentleman turned to Mr. Tatt and started chatting him up.  Here's what he said.

"My wife and I moved here from North Carolina.  We like Salt Lake City, except there are lots of gangs here."

And I went in my head STOP. TALKING. NOW.

But he didn't.  It was all gangs, gangs, gangs.  Much to his credit, Mr. Tatt was very polite.  His mother would have been proud.  And so was I.

Nicely done, Mr. Tatt!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Sacrament meeting gold

My niece once told me that our ward reminds her of a small quirky town in a place like northern Minnesota.  And we had the kind of meeting yesterday that gives her observation cred.
So we have this baby-faced, super cute and very innocent 13 year-old boy who was asked to be the youth speaker.  I will say that he surprised us all when he stood up behind the mic and announced that his assigned topic was "chastity."  You could practically hear congregation members whisper "What the hell?"  

Or something like that.

Anyway, without going into too much detail, may I just say you've never LIVED until you've heard a young boy drop the phrase "sexual intimacy" at least seven times over the pulpit in the course of a ten minute talk in church.  

Afterwards our bishop--he was the one was a surprised smile on his face during the entire meeting--told me and Ken Cannon that wires had been crossed and that "chastity" had never been the assigned topic.   

Glad I was there.

Friday, August 21, 2015

What's more fun than a barrel of Russians?

Yesterday my fab friend Shelley and her four adorable daughters surprised me with a visit and, the people, it was SO GREAT TO SEE THEM.

Also, Shelley told me she's headed to St Petersburg next week, which led us (among other things) to discuss what Russians are good at.  "Lightness of being" isn't one of them.

So this morning, Shelley sent me a text with this advice she read somewhere about getting along in Russia:  "The main menace to visitors is the gangs of begging street children who jostle sightseers for their valuables.  Use your common sense and don't draw attention to yourself.  Wearing a Hawaiian shirt, talking English loudly and waving your expensive video camera will mark you out as a tourist.  Although you may be wide-eyed with wonder at the strange sights and sounds around you, you will notice everyone else wearing a uniform expression of boredom and misery.  Looking around, making eye contact with strangers, even smiling to yourself--a Russian never does this."

Thursday, August 20, 2015

What's the point of that?

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day--a woman in her early 80s--who told me that when it came to their children, her husband had always been "stingy in love."  This, of course, is her take on things, although knowing her as I do, I suspect she's probably right.

I've been turning that phrase "stingy in love" over and over in my head since then and feeling the sadness of it.  Of all the things in this world to be stingy with!  It's just so unnecessary to withhold the very thing that can make anything and everything feel more worthwhile.

What a waste.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Home Perms

It seems like things you thought would stay away for good--padded shoulders, bell bottoms, platform shoes--often stage surprising comebacks.  Somehow, though, I can't see home perms doing the same.

This week's Salt Lake Tribune column!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

What my granddaughter said

Okay, first off you need to know that my grandkids call me "Tutu," which is Hawaiian for grandmother.  Not that I'm Hawaiian now, but I'm pretty sure I was in a previous life.

So, anyway, this granddaughter's family has a very old pug that is a good candidate these days for Dog Depends.  My granddaughter asked her father (my son) why their dog has started leaving calling cards in the house.  (I hope you appreciate how delicate I'm being here.  Because I'm going to stop in just a minute.)

GRANDDAUGHTER:   Why does Leila poop in the house?

SON:  Because she's old and her butt is broken.

GRANDDAUGHTER:  But Tutu's old and her butt isn't broken.

Just so you know.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Question for the day

So I'm sitting here working and I notice my dog (the one sleeping on my feet) is whimpering in her sleep like she's having a bad dream.  Discuss amongst yourselves.  What constitutes a bad dream for a dog?

Friday, August 14, 2015

Tiny letters to the things I like about this time of year

Dear Peaches,
Yay!  You're back.  I almost didn't notice until TRQ told me that the red havens are almost gone.  How did that even happen?  Just so you know, I will NOT be forgetting you from here until the last of you are gone.

Dear Crickets,
You show up earlier in the season in St. George, which is why I always go to bed with my window open down there in spite of the heat.  I like the way you sing me to sleep at night.  And now here you are in Salt Lake making happy evening noise, too.

Dear Corn and Tomatoes,
I could eat you three times a day.  In fact, I do!

Dear Early Morning Dog Walks,
I know.  Ken Cannon and I look like a parade when we leave in the morning with all three dogs.  But right now it's still light and the sky this morning was dove gray and pearly pink.

Dear Sky This Morning,
Thanks for being all dove gray and pearly pink.

Dear Phlox,
Thanks for blooming for such a long time this year.  You've been the champs of my garden.

Dear Baseball Games,
I don't watch you closely, I'll admit.  But I like to have you on almost all the time.  I find your chatter and slow-moving ways quite soothing.


Ann Cannon

Thursday, August 13, 2015

A very stupid organ indeed

A number of years ago I started sitting under a light box first thing in the morning during the winter months to deal with my seasonal slumping habit.  (It's a habit I advise against, fyi.)  Anyway, when I explained to my friend Becky that the light box is supposed to trick your brain into thinking that winter days are longer than they actually are, she said, "Well then the brain must be a very stupid organ."

I thought of that yesterday when I read about a study that said depressed patients who smiled even though they didn't feel like smiling got better faster than the non-smilers.  The thinking is that if you smile, your brain thinks you must be happy, so it gets happier, too.

This is awesome if it's true.  But still.  Come on, Brain.  Aren't you a tiny bit embarrassed about being so gullible?

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Wherein another random blog post turned into a Salt Lake Tribune column

I had so much fun thinking about TRQ hunting down snails that I decided to write a column about it.  

Thank you, Blog, for letting me capture my tiny thoughts and sometimes turn them into columns!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

We have three dogs in this house

It's true.  We do.  And I'll just throw this out there.  Three dog are too many dogs in one house.  BUT.  Whatever.

Anyway, one dog (Zora) is a large brown Newfie who weighs 180 pounds but isn't, according to our vet, overweight.  She's just a big-boned girl, like a midwestern farmer's daughter who becomes strong and good because she picks corn all day..  Whenever we take Zora out walking, people come to a full stop in the middle of the street to take a look and you can see their lips move.  That dog looks like a freaking bear!

The second dog is a Field Spaniel teenager who could spend all day at the mall and not feel the least bit tired.  Exuberant is the word that comes to mind when describing Penny.

And the third dog is a plump footstool of a Cavalier King Charles spaniel who came to us as a rescue.  Other than the times when he breaks out into his random psychotic barking attacks, he is neat and quiet and kind.  And often overlooked.

Which is why when I pass him on the staircase, I look him straight in the eye and whisper, "Don't tell the others, but you're my favorite."

That's me.  Building Dog Self-Esteem whenever and wherever I can.

Monday, August 10, 2015

To Our Survival

This is the name of my friend Megan's fabulous blog, which you can find here.  Go read it.  Relish her way with words, her honesty, and her great heart.

Anyway, that phrase "to our survival" has played through my head these past few weeks as we've celebrated the wedding of our youngest son to a wonderful woman.  I haven't gone into much detail here, but I think anybody who reads this blog knows that it's been a difficult rodeo for us the past year or so.  And somewhere along the way, I misplaced my joy.

But as I looked at my sons, standing in a line with their white shirts and striped bow ties, I thought you know what this family is good at?  Resilience.

We do resilience.

And what more could you ask for?

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Martin Marten

So remember how in elementary school there were reading groups?  And the teachers tried to give them value-neutral names?  But how everybody knew that the Bluebird reading group was made up of the smart kids and the Starling reading group was made up of the average kids and the Sparrows were the dumb kids?

If you didn't know this, I apologize.  And also if you didn't know this, please don't ask me about Santa Claus.

Anyway, I say this because at The King's English Bookshop, where I am fortunate to be working again, I am in the Sparrows reading group.  In my other lives, I'm considered fairly well-read.  But at work I am SO SURROUNDED by amazing readers who devour full buffets of books every day.  It's amazing.

So I am playing catch-up right now, which means I just finished reading a new store favorite--Martin Marten by Brian Doyle.  Basically, it's an unusual coming-of-age story about two beings who live on Mt. Hood in Washington--a boy named Dave and a marten named Martin.

Twenty pages into the book I liked it a lot without actually loving it.  I wondered if maybe it weren't a little overwritten.   But the more I read, the more I fell under its graceful and quirky charm, so that by the end of the book I was shedding tears of . . .  I don't know.  Life.

This is a special book.  My friend Sally Larkin describes it best when she says it is a book full of kindness and grace.  She's right.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

TRQ, Snail Huntress

Two things.

Here's the thing about Provo.  There were no snails there while I was growing up.  Provo was a snail-free zone.  Snails slithered to a full stop when they saw the "Welcome to Provo" sign and then slid back to Salt Lake.  Specifically to my garden in Salt Lake where they treated themselves to plenty of hostas and also marigolds.

Damn snails anyway.

Now here's the thing about my mother.  Once she sets her mind to something, she is relentless.  I have seen her tackle knitting projects that would make Professional Knitters weep.  She knits, unpicks, knits, unpicks, swears a little, knits, and finally succeeds.

The reason I mention this is that snails, apparently, have gotten all cocky these days.  Like they're saying to themselves we deserve to go to Provo and eat all the hostas there, too, now that we've polished off all the hostas in Salt Lake.  And so snails have appeared in my parents' garden.


TRQ is on it.  Every morning she goes snail hunting and drops those suckers in their tracks.  Or whatever it is that snails leave behind.  And, along the way, she's acquiring some interesting knowledge about snails, too, which has caused her to earn a grudging respect for her prey.

Although, in the end, she is merciless where the snails are concerned.  It's sayonara snails with her. And all I can say is well done, TRQ.  Well done.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Well now there's been a wedding in our family

Here's this week's column.

I actually wrote it last week because I knew we were going to be busy.  And yeah.  He was actually married on Saturday up in Logan.  It was a magical day.  Truly.  A lovely ceremony followed by a small, intimate reception in an apple orchard hung with lights and festooned with wildflowers.  There were tacos and dancing involved.  Because there was a mildly Latin touch to the whole event, my grandson wore a Mexican poncho and my granddaughter had a Spanish fan.

Happy, happy day.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Little Golden Books

So Provo City Library is having a lovely exhibition of all your favorite art from the golden days of Little Golden Books.  You can find my piece about it here.

My personal favorites?  Anything done by Eloise Wilkin--she of the fat-cheeked babies.  I snatch up those books whenever I can find them.

Do you have any fondly remembered Little Golden Books?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A column about enduring

I usually write my columns on Fridays and send them down to the paper first thing Monday morning. Generally by Thursday I have an idea or two kicking around upstairs, but last week?  Not so much.  Then I wandered down to South Temple to watch the runners and voila!  There was my column.

Sometimes the universe looks out for you.

Thanks for that, Universe!

Monday, July 27, 2015

A tiny thank you note to my garden

Dear My Garden,

I had such big plans for you this year, remember?  And when spring came rolling down the mountains this year back in March, I hung out with you a ton.  We were BFFs going to the mall, trying on this outfit and that outfit, so that when summer came rolling around you'd be outfitted with more daisies than a 1960's bride.


I don't know.

This year.

It's kinda kicked my butt, frankly, so the two of us pretty much stopped hanging out together.  I hate to say I abandoned you, but okay.  I did.  That's why when I stood on the porch today and (surprise!) saw your coral roses and pink dailyness and white phlox and yes--your daisies--shimmer with morning light, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the way you've kept calm and carried on.

Thank you, My Garden.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

So how's this for a blurb?

Tonight at the store a special order came in by an author named Patrick Taylor who was described on the cover this way:  "Patrick Taylor has become probably the most popular Irish-Canadian writer of all time."

This raised all kinds of interesting questions--like, how many Irish-Canadian writers are there?  Are Irish-Canadian writers a thing?  And exactly what does "of all time" mean?  Who's been keeping track?

And that word "probably"?  This guy is only "probably" the most popular Irish-Canadian writer of all time?

Turns out there's an art to blurbing a book . . .

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Stop me if I've told you this story before

Or don't . . .

Because it's a good one.

When my parents were driving up to Sun Valley for their honeymoon, TRQ asked the Coach who was better-looking--TRQ or her sorority sister rival.

Not clever enough (yet) to know the right answer, the Coach gave this some serious thought and then said:  "Well, she has a better face but you have a better body."

We laughed about this story (again) last night over dinner at David's Kitchen because it was my parents' wedding anniversary, and they invited us to join them for some sweet and sour pork chops, as well as walnut shrimp.  Pot stickers were also involved.

Happy anniversary to two of the best people I know.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A tiny screed about Facebook

You can find it here.

I've thought about quitting it altogether because maybe then I'd finish writing a book.  But I would miss your smiling faces.  Yes I would!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Just another reason why I love TRQ

This is the conversation TRQ and I had at dinner last night.

TRQ:  George Clooney's wife has really thin arms these days.

ME:  Is that right?

TRQ:  Yes.  They're worried that she has anorexia.

And then the two of us carried on our conversation about George Clooney and his wife with the thin arms as though they're neighbors of ours.

It's pretty clear where I get my taste for celebrity gossip, don't you think?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Personal bucket thing

Well, it's true that my personal bucket thing has gone empty.  For a lot of reasons, I'm just all tapped out every which way these days.  But whatever.  That's not the point of this blog.  The point is that I'm trying to refill my personal bucket thing and to wit--this story.

I felt like some soothing, calming music might be in order to restore my ragged nerves, so the other day when I was driving around I saw a Deseret Book and the thought did occur unto me that MAYBE a cd by the Mormon Tabernacle choir might be just the thing for me.

Yes.  I know.

So I pulled into the parking lot, went inside, and impulse-bought a cd (a double cd, even!) of the Mo-Tabs singing patriotic tunes.

Yes again.  I know.

Anyway, I popped it into my car's cd player and after listening to the chorus of "Over There" (THE YANKS ARE COMING!  THE YANKS ARE COMING!) I went what the hell.

Moral of this story:  resist the temptation to impulse buy a cd of the Mo-Tabs singing patriotic tunes when you need to fill your bucket thing.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Atticus Finch

Well, by now you've probably all read about the fact that old Atticus disappoints his grownup daughter, Jean Louise (aka "Scout") when she returns to town as a grownup and discovers that her father is a stodgy southern racist.  I write about all of this here.

One of the points I make is that the character of Atticus--the one we meet in To Kill a Mockingbird--might, in fact, be the one Harper Lee meant us to remember.  He was, after all, brought to life during Lee's revisions of Go Set a Watchman.  This happens during the revision process sometimes.  My first take on Charlotte Edwards--the main character of Charlotte's Rose--was timid.  Fearful.  Her journey was to discover her own bravery.

But somewhere during one of the drafts  I got bored with that Charlotte and turned her into a bold girl.  A feisty girl.  A girl who would impulsively volunteer to carry a baby across the plains and then be stubborn enough to do it.

We'll never know how the character of Atticus Finch evolved, ultimately.  And the truth is the Atticus in Watchman may well be a more realistic character given the story's time and place.

But still.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Texting challenged

Here's a text thread I just had with my friend about attending a certain lecture together.

ME:  I have to be in Provo covering an event for the paper.  Are you wanting to go, too?

HER:  Yes.  I'm hoping to go.

ME:  Good!  Let's hang out!!

HER:  Awesome blossom!

ME:  I can drive if you'd like to ho together.

Please notice that last sentence.  Yes.  I accidentally said "ho" instead of "go."  I hope the visual of two middle-aged Mormon ladies ho-ing in Provo amuses you as much as it does me.

You're welcome.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Oh, Irony

Last week I decided to go off Facebook for awhile.  And, in fact, I was going to write a column about it, saying how I was wasting so much time on Facebook these days, taking Buzzfeed quizzes to find out which Disney Princess I am and so forth (I'm Aurora btw--apparently I'm shy and reticent and it takes me awhile to open up to people).

But then the gnomes happened.


While I was in California, certain people (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE, ANNE HOLMAN, MARGARET NEVILLE, WHITNEY AND JANE BERGER) kidnapped my gnomes and took them bar-hopping all over Salt Lake.

Also Jamie Ortwein took one with her to Europe.

So now these gnomes keep showing up on my fb page and, the people,  I cannot leave it now.  Not as long as my gnomes are knocking back cocktails with strange men leering at them in the background.  Go to my fb page and you'll see what I mean.

Monday, July 6, 2015

A few pieces from The Trib

I haven't been very good about posting things from the paper lately.  So here we go.  A column about beating the heat and a longer piece about the pleasures of sharing books aloud.

You know what I'd like to do?  Two columns a week for the paper.  It would be a challenge, but I think I'd enjoy it.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

July 4 evolving

Ken Cannon and I passed a pleasant holiday yesterday.

In the morning we ate breakfast at the ward where I was comforted to see the regulars (Rick Horne, Stuart Loosli) still flipping flapjacks with the best of them.  Then we skedaddled on home where I lazed about until it was time to cheer on the Bees and watch some fireworks down at the Smith's Ballpark.  We were joined by Mike Brown and his lovely wife, Kacie, whom I have known and loved since the day she was born.  And now look at us!  We're grownup friends together!

Anyway, I've thought about how our observance of this holiday has changed over the years.  To recap--

1.  When Ken and I had young kids we went to Provo on the 3rd, lit off fireworks (one of them went accidentally went up TRQ's robe once!  Fortunately, no limbs lost!), slept over night, and hit the parade in the morning.   We spent the afternoon over at Ruth's house where the kids knocked themselves out on the Slippy Slide and I went into a potato salad-induced coma.  In the evening we returned to SLC where Kathy Berg and her neighbor Kathy Shafer used to have a monster neighborhood party in their combined backyard.

2.  When Ken was made bishop, we stopped doing the Provo Fourth, which was sort of tragic in some ways because the Fourth was the Biggest of the Big in Provo when I was growing up.  But we were obligated to go to the ward flag raising ceremony and breakfast, and eventually that became our new beloved tradition.  We still went to Provo in the afternoon, then returned to SLC for baseball purposes.

3.  And now we don't even go to Provo.  Ruth is too tired (she has the right to be too tired--she's 95!) to host a family friendly Bacchanalia and, frankly, we don't mind staying home.

Holidays evolve to fit the time of life you're in and I'm pretty much okay with that.

I did spend a lot of time yesterday thinking about Becky Thomas.  The Fourth was her favorite holiday.  She felt about the Fourth the way I (sometimes still) feel about Christmas.  I felt her everywhere.  And that was lovely.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Well, THAT was disorienting

For the past four or five summers, I've either biked or run in Liberty Park first thing in the morning where I always give a nod to The Regulars like myself.  One of them is an older man who wears some sort of armed forces golf hat, so over the years I've imagined him fighting in WWII.  Maybe he was in Normandy, storming the beaches.  Or maybe he was in the Pacific, fighting his way across the sands of Iwo Jima.  

Whenever I see him, I feel like saluting and thanking him for his service.

And I still feel that way, although this morning it finally occurred to me that this gentleman--who I've been thinking of as old--may actually be closer to my vintage than to my uncles'.  Which means he could be a vet of my generation's war.  Vietnam.


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Salt Lake Trib e-mail account and a sacred vow

So somehow I didn't get the memo that the paper was switching servers, which happened while I was gone and now I've lost everything I had over there on the original server.

Here's the downside of all that.  I've lost some contact information from certain readers I'd like to stay in touch with.  (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE!)  Please e-mail me at my new address.  Or at

Here's the upside.  I don't have to feel responsible for those 5,000 (and I'm not kidding) unopened emails in my queue now.  I have a blank slate again!  And (channeling Scarlett O'Hara here) as God is my witness, I'm never going to wind up with 5,000 emails in my queue again!

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Seven Deadly Sins

Yesterday over dinner we were discussing which of the seven deadlies we were most prone to commit.  Which, why?  Why were we talking about that instead of baseball?

Anyway, after reviewing myself on the Sin Front, here's what I decided.

WRATH:  I'm more apt to be peeved in this life than wrathful.  Except when someone steals my last Dr. Pepper.

GREED:  Honestly, I'm too slothful to be greedy.  Greed takes energy.

SLOTH:  Seriously, is this really a sin?  I don't think so.  And when you turn this word into a noun, I'm a fan. Sloths rock, baby.

PRIDE:  Again.  This takes energy.  Count me out.

LUST:  Yeah.  This one's pretty much in the rearview mirror these days.

GLUTTONY:  Well, yes.  Now we're getting somewhere.  Especially if Mexican food is involved.

ENVY:  Bingo.

I wouldn't say envy consumes me.  But it's a presence at times with me--especially in my writing life.
Especially when I'm feeling bad about my writing life.

OK.  Gonna get to work now.

POSTSCRIPT:  Actually, just want to clarify here.  I don't feel bad about my writing life at the moment.  WIFYR energized me.  I feel that all things are possible.  Except for a return of my stomach muscles.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Well, yes, I am in the house again

It's been an intense few weeks.  First there was getting ready for WIFYR.  Then there was WIFYR.  And then there was the Edwards Family Beach Week.  And now there's re-entry into my normal life.

Beach Week, as always, was terrific.  And occasionally fraught.  But terrific.  And occasionally fraught.  You can't get that many family members under one roof and not have those "moments"--the ones that require you to apologize to someone later.

In my case I needed to apologize to TRQ for getting sharpish with her in front of several of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  I felt terrible as soon as I snapped at her.  Still do, in fact, although she was very gracious and kinder to me than I deserved right then.

I've been trying to understand what happened and here's what I think was going on.  TRQ and I were both playing the role of Uber-Mother, running around the room taking everyone's emotional temperature.  And that, my friends, can be exhausting.  By the end of the week, we were both REALLY tired.  And when that kind of tired happens?  Words.

I was texting all of this to Lisa B. while Ken Cannon and I were driving home yesterday, saying I'M SUCH AN IDIOT and NO ONE ASKED ME TO TAKE THEIR EMOTIONAL TEMPERATURE and WHY DID I SET MYSELF UP?  And she very calmly reminded me that in our culture women are asked to and expected to do all kinds of care-taking.   She's right.  And I appreciated her pointing this out to me.

But now I'm home.  And there were strange visiting gnomes on our porch when we returned.  So it's all home sweet gnome.  And when next summer comes,  hopefully I'll be at the beach again.  Like my brother Jimmy says, "We keep on going back."

Like the swallows.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Dads, etc.

Here's a column a did with Father's Day in mind.  I cried a little as I wrote it, which I didn't expect.  It was one of those things that changed directions on me.

I think remembering that drive hit me in a different way because while my own father isn't at the place where my grandfather was yet, he has aged in the last few years.  The melanoma and the heart issues have taken their toll.  And I don't know.  It's hard for him and, frankly, hard for the people who love him.

Conference is going well.  One of the unexpected pleasures of having done WIFYR for so many years is that I run into old students during the week.  Their dedication and willingness to learn always inspires me.

Plus they're just a lot of fun.

Monday, June 15, 2015

MEMO TO SELF: Do not buy pastries at Starbucks

I know.  I've learned this lesson before.  HOWEVER . . .

Because I had so much reading to do today, I slipped away from WIFYR for a couple of hours and set up shop in a nearby Starbucks.  Which meant, of course, that I had to buy something.  So I bought a sugar cookie.

Now I ask you.  How hard is it screw up a sugar cookie?  But guess what.  Starbucks can!  This cookie was not only bad, it was aggressively-in-your-face bad.  It offended me with its badness and as you know, I am not a food snob.  At all.  It's just that I require my food to taste . . . you know . . . LIKE FOOD and not a former shoebox.

Starbucks!  You should be ashamed of yourself for offending me with your alleged cookies!

OK.  Rant over.  In other news, I have an awesome class at WIFYR this year.  Looking forward to tomorrow.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Girls are scary

6.  Walking barefoot on Utah grass.

The other day at the library my granddaughter told me to go behind a chair so she didn't have to look at me.  I KNOW!

Actually, this was much less Snotty Dotty than it sounds.  She just wanted to be a teenager at the library w/o a grandmother watching over her.

Anyway.  I was telling my walking friends this story and they all laughed.  And then after they all laughed, they all said, "You don't know how to deal with girls, do you?"  And it occurred to me right then and there that I don't.

I'm like a guy in a man cave, playing video games, drinking Mountain Dew, eating Doritoes and listening to sports podcasts in this respect.  I am mystified by the girls.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Here comes some WIFYR

4.  Enjoying movies at Lisa B's magic house
5.  Sitting on my porch, watching a summer evening roll in

I've been working hard this week, getting ready for WIFYR (  Over the years, some of the most memorable experiences I've had have occurred at this workshop.  And former students have become friends for life.  I even went to Kari's wedding!

And yet I'm always in a panic before it starts.  Will I get all the work done?  Will I help students find what they need and what they're looking for?  I kind of don't sleep for a few weeks before the conference starts.

On the other hand, I do manage to keep eating.  And eating.  And eating.

I'll be glad when the conference begins . . .

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

My own personal tortilla project

Well, okay.  I did have fun writing this one.  It's just not every day you can say that Bradley Cooper is a tall glass of tortilla.

As far as the listing (discussed yesterday) goes . . .

1.  Watching mountains turn blue at twilight
2.  Treating myself to an outrageously expensive ice cream cone from Hatch's Chocolates
3.  Cutting a rose and putting it in a bud vase so I can sniff it whenever I want to

Monday, June 8, 2015

My own personal happiness project

I've recently realized that my default emotional setting is sadness.  It's the place my brain seems to go when my brain is looking for some place to be.  This hasn't always been true of me, but it's certainly been true the past few years.

There are lots of reasons for this.  Our family's mental health challenges weigh heavily on me at times.  And then there's always change.  I've never been very good at accepting it--stupid, I know--but it's grown harder with age because so many of the things I've loved are no longer a part of my life.

But here's the thing.  I don't want to go through the rest of my years feeling sad.  It seems like a betrayal of Life (cue "Fiddler on the Roof" music) somehow.  Not that you should always be happy!  perky!  whatever!  That's just crazypants and also super annoying.

But this world--my world--is full of so much MUCH!  And to shortchange that because I'm dwelling in a sad place out of habit just seems wrong.  So my little project for the next day or two is to make lists of the things I can enjoy as a reminder to myself.

This will be fun.  

Thursday, June 4, 2015

A conversation I just had at the nursery

ME:  Last time I was here you still had some of your mini-roses.

CLERK:  On an endcap, right?

ME:  Yes.  Do you still have them.

CLERK:  (Looks oddly guilty)

ME:  Is this you telling me that those roses recently met their maker?

CLERK:  Yes.  But they didn't suffer.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Thinking about TRQ

My mother is a presence in my blog, I know, and usually when I write about her, it's with a sort of amused affection because she's just so HERSELF and just so larger than life.

But lately I've been thinking about that year I was sick--how I spent part of that time in the hospital and then in bed for seven months.  She was barely 30.  She had just moved from a home she'd loved in Salt Lake to a town she didn't like much (that would be Provo).  She'd just had a new baby.  And the Coach had a new REALLY STRESSFUL job.

She was already isolated, and my illness isolated her from making new friends even more.  And yet she took such tender care of me.

I think of the young woman she was sometimes in the early of each morning when I step outside to see what this day might bring and thank her quietly for the opportunity I have to do just that.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Tossing some love at educators

This column grew out of a talk I heard.  Jared Wright did a nice job.  Wish I had a photo of him in his short shorts.

Also, it's worth noting here that I have almost killed Jared twice.  And I don't mean that metaphorically.  I mean it literally.  Once on the freeway.  Once in a boat.  Ask him about it when you see him.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Question of the day

How did we do it?

I've been babysitting my grandchildren while their parents are in NYC and it's been a good thing to do on a lot of fronts.  To wit, a list.  And I hope I have used "to wit" correctly here.  Please advise.

1.  I like getting to know these kids.

2.  It makes me appreciate just what my mom and MIL did for us when we were young parents.

3.  And also now I know why I didn't do certain things . . .

I've been in a mood lately--kind of a berating mood--asking myself why I didn't do certain things with my kids.  Read to them more.  Feed them better food.  Monitor their educational pursuits more intelligently.  Blah blah blah etc and also more big blah blah.  BLAH.

The good thing about having these kids here for a few days is that suddenly I can go oh yeah.  This is intense.  And busy.  And everything is happening on the edge of chaos.  So guess what.


And so were we.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Grapes of Wrath-ish

This is the conversation Ken Cannon and I had last night while watching our programs.

ME:  Louis C.K. had a funny bit about The Grapes of Wrath.  [I watched LCK's HBO Special on the way home from Amsterdam, so now I'm the annoying person who's all "LCK said this" and "LCK said that."  It's a problem.  But I own it.]

KEN:  Oh yeah?

ME:  About the ending.

KEN:  Okay.

ME:  You remember the ending, don't you?


ME:  You are so busted.  You did NOT read that book.

KEN:  Yes, I did.

ME:  You would totally, totally remember that ending if you'd read it.  That was the point of LCK's monologue.

KEN:  I read it.

ME:  No.  You didn't.

KEN:  I did.  I just don't remember the ending.

ME:  Stop.  Please. Here's what happened.  Your sisters read that book for you.

Those sisters earned most of Ken's A's in high school.  But I'm happy to report he earned all of his own A's (and there were many of them) thereafter.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Who we are now

After leaving Helsinki in 1985, Ken Cannon, our two sons, and I travelled through Europe for about six weeks, which sounds a lot more romantic in theory than it was in real life.  But whatever.  I'm glad we did it.

One night we stopped at a campground somewhere in France, where we met an older couple.  He played the guitar and sang.  She listened.  They spoke a little English, so we learned that they'd had five children--all of them grown now--and so they were spending time traveling and enjoying themselves.  Maybe I was just imagining it because I was so frazzled at the time (I also happened to be pregnant with our third at the time), but they seemed . . . peaceful.  Contented with what their life was and what their life had been.

I did not, however, see myself or my future in them.  At all.

Well, Ken Cannon and I did have five children.  And we're probably the ages of that French couple now.  And while we were driving through France this month it occurred to me that we had become them, all these years later.

Except, of course, without the guitar.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Well I didn't expect to see THAT in the intersection of 7th East and 2nd South

So I stopped at a red light (I'm very law-abiding that way) at the above intersection on my way to Liberty Park for my morning toddle when I spotted a man in the crosswalk.  He was nicely dressed like the young professional he possibly is.   Also, he was carrying a white tote thing that looked like one of those mini-cooler deals you put a few sodas in when you head out for a picnic.  In fact, this guy was kind of swinging it--the way a kid would swing his super awesome Ninja Turtles lunchbox on his way to school in the morning.

But here's the thing.  Emblazoned in big red BLOCK letters on the side of the white tote were the words HUMAN ORGAN.

Seriously.  Don't you find that a tiny bit disturbing?

So then I had to spin scenarios.  Why human organs?  Why this particular man with human organs?  Is this how it works when you need a transplant?  If you can afford it, you have the organ life-flighted to the hospital.

But if not, then dude will just put it in his cooler and walk it on over.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Now THAT'S an obituary!

Dear Karma,

I am about to make fun of another human being's obituary which means you'll arrange to have someone somewhere make fun of mine.  Maybe even many, many someones will be making fun of mine.  You'll see to it, I know.  And okay fine.  I accept those terms.  Because I cannot let pass what Ken Cannon just read to me from this morning's Trib.

It's all in verse.


How does one begin to describe, or pay tribute TO,
a daughter, a sister, a wife and mother, grandma
and great-grandma such as YOU!
Married to Wilford, children they had THREE,
Sadly only one remains, and that one 
would be ME!

There's more.  But you get the idea.  And yeah, now that I think about it, it's awesome to think of a lone surviving child--probs in her seventies--busting out rhymes like Kanye, yo.


Ann Cannon

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Does this mean I've been in Primary too long?

I teach Primary on Sundays, and it's a good place for me because as anybody who has spent any time with me knows, I am pretty much a ten year-old boy at heart.

However, I'm wondering if I need a break.  I offer this little story as evidence.

Yesterday I taught the story about Jesus and the Ten Lepers (NOT LEOPARDS, KIDS!  GET IT RIGHT!) and we did a little impromptu dramatization.  They dictated a script to me and I wrote it down, then made copies for them.

When I handed them the copies they complained that they couldn't read my handwriting.  They were all, "Your handwriting sucks, Teacher."  And in my heart I was all, "My handwriting sucks?  Well YOU suck."

And then in my heart I went even further.  "How much do you suck?  You guys can't even drive.  You have to get your moms to drive you to soccer practice."

And then in my heart I thought, "Yup, Ann.  You're officially crazytown now."

Friday, May 22, 2015

Some stray observations of the European variety

Oh hi.  It's me.  Just home from a trip to the Netherlands, Belgium, and France where I kept a tiny journal of some impressions which I include here.

* So many cyclists in Amsterdam!  And nobody wears helmets.  Not even the babies!  I found this oddly refreshing.

* Speaking of cycling babies--the parents just shove them into these flimsy contraptions on the front handlebars and away they all go.  I also found this oddly refreshing.  Sometimes I think our insistence on safety all the times breeds a culture of anxiety and fear among our kids.

* I'm still blown away by how multi-lingual the average Dutch person is.

* BTW if you add an "-en" to the end of a word, you're speaking Dutch.  Right, Louise?

* If you like the smell of grass, you'll love walking around Amsterdam.  Actually, the scent reminded me of the Avenues on a Saturday night.

* When did Mexican food become so popular in Europe?

*  The whole time we were in Brugge, Geoffrey and I keep quoting lines from the movie In Bruges, which paints a pretty good picture of what the town is like, including all the freaking swans and cobblestones minus Ralph Fiennes' barracuda smile.

*  There's Dr Pepper in Euope now, yo.  It tasted better in France than it did in Holland or Belgium.  I can tell you where to go to get cold cans.

*Not to trade in stereotypes, but . . . the French are a leetle more cavalier about certain things than say the Dutch would be.  We had reservations to stay in a b and b in the Normandy countryside.  Check in time was 7:00.  We were a tiny bit late because--you know--we were trying to find our way around in a foreign country.  When we got there, no one was there.  We waited at the gate.  And waited.  And waited.  And we all had to go to the bathroom.  And waited.  And we were hungry.  And waited.  And finally we started blaming each other for everything that had every happened in our lives.  And waited.  And also we blamed each other for everything that had happened in the history of the world.  And waited.  And . . . finally the owners showed up COMPLETELY UNAPOLOGETICALLY to let us in around midnight.  They'd gone out to dinner and had a nice time because you know.  Why not?   It was food and Friday!

* If you're reading this, Shelley, please know that I do love France.

* Frites!

* Waffles!

* I heard the word "dumbass" in our car a lot, actually.  Which is a fine word, actually.  I heartily approve whenever I hear it used.

* Ken Cannon loves himself a GPS.  Which, apparently, is why we had two.  One of them spoke in a British accent.  One of them spoke in an American accent.  Sometimes they disagreed about which turn to take.  It was like, "Shut up. This is my crib."

* Whenever I tried to say anything, both GPS-es interrupted me.  It was like, "Shut up, American lady.  This is our crib."

* Ghosts are everywhere on Omaha Beach.

* Guess what.  Europeans are as heavy as Americans are now.  Even in France.  We've rubbed off onto them, obv.

*  There were tons of military roaming the streets of Paris in groups of three, bearing assault weapons and watching the crowds.  I saw this in Spain in the 70s under Franco.  First time I've seen it in France.  Disconcerting, for sure.  Fallout from Charlie Hebdo, I'd guess.

* It's harder to tell nationalities apart now than it used to be.  Or at least it was for me.  When I lived in Europe for the first time in the 70s and for the second time in the 80s, you would have never confused a British teenager for a French teenager for an Italian teenager.  And, of course, the Germans were the ones wearing socks with sandals.  But now?  Wow.  Just hard to tell.  Throw a scarf on yourself and no matter where you're from, you look French-ish.

* Whenever I hear a siren in Europe, I think of the old Pink Panther movies.  Which I won't watch again.  I thought they were hysterical when I saw them.  Now they would just probably disappoint.


* So many churches.  So few church-goers.

* I'm kind of in love with French cows right now--all fat and creamy and ivory-colored.  Keep on rocking the free world, you French cows!

* Saw orange poppies begin to bloom in Flanders fields and felt ghosts there, too.

* Speaking of ghosts, felt the ghosts of my former selves there, as well.

Speaking of which, this trip was great.  I do not take my privilege lightly or for granted.  But I was beset by a certain melancholy.  I remembered the other times I've been there--as a student, as a young mother, as a tourist--and thought about where I was in my life and what I thought might happen in the years ahead.  It's sobering to realize how much time has passed for me personally.

I also feel this strange . . . I don't know . . . sadness about how much the world (I'm speaking of the first world here) has shrunk.  The tulip gardens in Holland blew me away.  But guess what.  The display I saw this spring at Thanksgiving Point was almost as awesome in scope and execution.  And I loved the waffles in Brugge.  But guess what.  I can get Belgian waffles every bit as good when I go to Brugge downtown.    And, seriously, I think you'd be hard pressed to find a kouing amann anywhere in the world as the ones you can buy (every day if you want to spend $5.00!) at Les Madeleines.  Don't get me wrong.  I'm THRILLED I have access to this things.  But still.

Having said all of this, there's something amazing about being in places where the structures themselves carry deep history in their bones.  Spectacular.

And if you made it all the way to the end of this post, I love you.  And I owe you lunch.

Monday, May 18, 2015

A few little thoughts about Europe

Here they are.

I'll start posting again regularly next week!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

A few little thoughts about movies

This column was inspired by my TKE co-worker Aaron Cance.  We were talking about movies that haven't aged well, and the subject of Ladyhawke  came up.  I had a little crush there in the 70s and 80s on Rutger Hauer, but every time I've since seen one of his movies, I've been all why?
Nighthawks was another fondly remembered movie that later disappointed.  In retrospect, the tight turtleneck didn't do RH any favors, although it must be said they don't do me any favors either.

Sunday, May 10, 2015


I'm stealing this idea from Louise over at The Chattering Crow.  Read her list about her mother, because it's great.  And that's not a cheap American compliment either.

I write a lot about my mother, but it's a pretty one-dimensional portrait I create here, because I tend to talk about her when she's being her gloriously eccentric self.  But she's so, so much more than that.  So here's the rest of her.  Or if not the rest of her, at least more of her.

--She was an only child and an only grandchild on her father's side.

--When she was little, she used to sneak over to the neighbor's house where the neighbor fed her tiny spoonfuls of coffee--in spite of my grandmother's insistence that was "against our religion."

--She was named after her grandmother (Patti) and her mother (Louise).  Except her grandmother wasn't really named Patti originally.  My great-grandmother re-named herself when she left the Midwest and kicked over the traces of her old life.

--She survived a fire as a child that burned the family home to the ground.

--She broke her back as a child and has suffered from back trouble more or less for the rest of her life.  Doesn't stop her.  Put her in a city (preferably NewYork) and she can out-walk any of her companions.

--Every spring she decides to take up gardening, which means she buys plants.  Icelandic poppies usually.  And then she waits for my dad to plant them.

--She loves, loves, loves animals.  The pet population at our home was always fluid, because she never said no when we brought something home.

--She once threw a party at our house and wore a turban and rings on her toes (literally) just for the hell of it.  She was--you know--like freaking Elizabeth Taylor that way.

--She has raised thousands and thousands of dollars for the Provo Boys and Girls Club.

--If you're an underdog, my mother is so in your corner.

--Speaking of which, she once challenged the town bully to a fight after school.  He never showed up.

--Her parents sent her to live with her Aunt Blanche in Utah when she was fourteen because my grandmother thought the schools were better her.  My mother missed Wyoming every single moment she was away.

--My mother has always had a taste for jewels.

--I frequently had nightmares as a child.  My mother was always a constant and soothing presence when they happened.

--She used to wear sunglasses in church.  Like Jackie O.

--She still decorates for Christmas, even though she's in her eighties.

--She knows how to swear better than my father does.

--She can never say no to a card game.

--She reads more than practically anybody else I know, excluding Betsy Burton.

--She sleeps with an electric blanket.  In July.

--She is superstitious.  Truly.

--She loves me.  In spite of my hair.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Shopping carts and the crazy

Early this morning I went to Smiths with the intention of stocking up on pet food (for the pets) and snacks (for the humans) in preparation for some upcoming travels.  So yeah.  I had bags of cat food, dog food, pistachios, Twix bars, licorice and M and Ms in my cart.  Also I had a STAR magazine to find out if Kris Kardashian really did sleep with her son-in-law because WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?

Also, there was a gnome in my cart.  Because it was on sale.

As the clerk checked me out, I started looking at myself through her eyes, so I said, "Do you ever wonder what the hell is going on with people?"

She said no.  She was the very soul of discretion.

But, the people, she was lying.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Random walking

This afternoon I felt the distinct need to go on a long walk to clear my head.  So I did.  I walked to a bank downtown via First South and what I noticed is that there are a LOT of assisted living establishments on First South.

(I'm probably noticing these because I took an online quiz the other day that told me my mental age is 69.  So there's that.  The good news, however, is that I'm not color blind!  I took another online quiz that told me that.  So I may not remember where I'm going, but I won't accidentally confuse red lights for green.  WHICH IS AWESOME.)

Anyway.  The point is this.  I drive down First South all the time but have failed to see most of what resides there.  If you want to see a city, you have to do it on foot.

Here's to feet.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Another sighting in the Aves

I've mentioned before that over the years my walking pals and I have seen and heard things at 5:30 a.m. that . . . startle.  Like guys with no pants on.  And cops asking about guys with no pants on.  And guys with pants on randomly asking us if we are dancers.  Stuff like that.

Well, this morning, a guy asked us in passing how we were doing, which is always a little weird, because the Rule of the Streets is that you pretend not to see each other.  But anyway.  This guy didn't get the Street Rules Memo.  So we answered him.

And that's when things got weirder.

US:  We're fine.

HIM:  Are you doing your Walk of Shame?

US:  (pause) (because we didn't see that one coming)

SALLY:  Yes.  We all just left the Sig House.

ME:  It was Grab-a-Grandma Night up there.

I hope he found that image disturbing.  Truly.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Some graphic novels and also a little lying for your Monday perusal

Here are a couple of Trib pieces.  I had a little help from some friends re the graphic novel story.  Thanks for that, friends!

And then I also have some thoughts about lying.  Right here!

Phew.  That was hard work, all that clicking and copying and clicking and pasting.  I think I'll go eat that slice of peanut butter cheesecake I bought at the Dodo earlier to restore my strength.

M-m-m-m-m-m-m.  Peanut butter cheesecake.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

On Rotten Tomatoes and WOMAN IN GOLD

So Ken Cannon and I saw WOMAN IN GOLD last week and I liked it.  I thought the story was interesting and the flashbacks were affecting.  Also, who doesn't love some Dame Helen and well.  Hello, Ryan Reynolds.  You are a tall, tall drink, Ryan Reynolds.

Also, I think he's a pretty good actor and has nice abs to go along with the chops.

Okay.  I make it a point to never read reviews before I see something, so as soon as we got home, I pulled up Rotten Tomatoes and was a little surprised to see that only 50% of the critics liked the movie.  They thought it was dull.  And cheesy. Hallmark-y, even, because you know nothing says Hallmark-y like Nazis.  And a few of the reviews were actively hateful.

A lot of you see more movies than I do.  I'm looking at YOU, Lisa B and James.  While it wasn't the best film I've ever seen, I didn't think it was as terrible as some people obviously did.  What am I missing?

I'd like your honest opinions here.  I'm totally okay if you hated the movie.  I just feel like I've had a major lapse in taste or something, and now I'm not allowed to sit at the popular kids' table anymore.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Well, I didn't see this one coming . . .

It's one of the huge blessings in my life that both of my parents are still alive and that I get to see them as much as I do.  Score! Yesterday they called and asked if I wanted to meet them for lunch at the Fashion Place Cheesecake Factory.

MOMENTARY CHEESECAKE FACTORY DETOUR!  OK, I kinda don't get the Cheesecake Factory.  Whenever I go there, I feel like I'm eating at a Roman coliseum, because everything there is so huge.  The doors!  The bathroom stalls!  The ceilings!  I feel like a little person extra in the Wizard of Oz there.  But whatever.  My parents are suddenly all about the gi-normous Cheesecake Factory.

Anyway, the Coach and I snagged a booth and waited for TRQ, who was returning something (shoes perhaps?) at Nordstrom.

"Okay, while your mother's not here, I'm supposed to bring something up with you," the Coach said in a solemn voice.

Wow.  What could be going on?  Was somebody sick?  Financially ruined? Going to prison?  What was I about to hear?

I girded my loins.  Or whatever it is people do with their loins at times like this.

"What's the matter?"  I asked.

"Your hair," he said.  "I'm supposed to tell you that certain people in the family don't like your gray hair and maybe you should think about doing something different with it."

Then he sat back in his booth all relaxed, message successfully delivered.

Seriously.  I love my parents.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Something I know about writing

Here's what I know about writing.  Sometimes it's hard.  And sometimes it's REALLY hard.

I know, I know, I know.  I hate to be one of those writers who's always all THIS IS SUCH HARD WORK WHAT I DO!  Picking strawberries for 12 hours a day in the heat of a blazing sun and not making very much money while you're at it--okay, that's hard work.

But yeah.  The writing doesn't come easy.  Lately I've had a tough time coming up with ideas for the column.  And then when I finish one I go hide in my closet for awhile because you know.  Shame.  Gah.  I suck.

But all the time I've been feeling this way, there's been this voice in my head--it's a no--nonsense nun's voice and she has a ruler which she isn't afraid to use--that tells me you've been in this place before.  It'll pass.  Just keep writing.

Thank you, Sister.  And, of course, you're right.

Oh and btw here's this week's article.  Big shout out to Louise, Tom, and Ed.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Hold onto that boy and never let him go

This morning my four year-old granddaughter and I had the following conversation.

GD:  Emerson is my boyfriend.  You knew that, right?

ME:  Yes.  Why do you like him?

GD:  Because he has brown hair, and he's been to Legoland.

This is good boyfriend material.  Don't let him slip away is what I say.

Monday, April 27, 2015

A love note to writers who haven't published yet

You know who you are.

I just spent a weekend with a few of you up in Midway where you made me laugh and cry and also marvel (a lot!) because you write so damn well.  I'm not saying this to be nice.  That's what your mothers are for.  I'm saying it because whenever I hear you read, I secretly acknowledge to myself there's no reason why I should have published and you haven't yet.

I've thought a lot about how it all happened for me--the publishing a book part--and I will say this:  yes, I had some talent.  And yes, I wrote a lot and sent stuff out.  I did my part, just like you're doing your part.  But here's the thing.  A certain amount of luck is involved.

Yup.  Lots of times it just comes down to luck--having your piece in front of the right editor at the right time.

Obviously you can increase the chances of being in the right place at the right time by continuing to produce and sending things around.  Still.  Luck plays more of a part in these things than we wish it did.

This is just my way of saying that you're deserving.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

It's your birthday! It's your birthday!

OK.  Maybe it's not YOUR birthday.  But it is my one year-old grandson's birthday today.  And so I wrote this column.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

God beneath a tree

A friend posted a video on her Facebook wall wherein Joanna Gaines, star of HGTV's Fixer Upper speaks about her Christian faith and how it has informed her life.  I often find these kinds of testimonials grating.  I'm not sure why--maybe because the people who give them come across as smug somehow?  I don't know.  Gaines' video, however, didn't affect me that way.  Her sincerity and a sort of genuine humility and awe were present as she spoke.


The video did make me feel . . . isolated.

All throughout the video Gaines talks about conversations she's had with God throughout her lifetime, and by conversation, I mean CONVERSATION.  God is always telling her what to do.  Start a business.  Close a business.  Take care of babies.  Start a business again.  She sits under a tree to receive guidance for an hour and in that hour God speaks to her.

She believes what she's saying, and I believe she believes what she's saying.  But still.  Why can't a few people I love sit under a tree and find some answers?  Or at least some peace?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Better Call Saul

So this is my son's favorite show right now--a prequel to "Breaking Bad" which shows how CRIMNAL lawyer, Saul Goodman, becomes--you know--Saul Goodman.

I watched an episode with Son last night, and it's everything he said it was.  Darkly funny and smart--even oddly poignant-- for sure.  But I'm wondering if I want to commit to a series where I watch a character devolve instead of evolve.  I mean, that is the stuff of epic tragedy.  MacBeth.  Othello.  Hamlet They all leave their better selves behind at some point.  So "Better Call Saul" fits neatly into that tradition.

But.  Gah.  Sometimes a girl just wants a happy ending, you know?